On Turning 27: What I've Learned This Year

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Another year has gone by in the blink of an eye, making it feel surreal that I'll now be 27 years young. I remember all the plans I had for the upcoming year just after turning 26. There were so many things I wanted to accomplish. Things didn't go quite the way I imagined though, which I've come to realise is okay. Sometimes life takes us on several detours and where we end up may not be where we expected at first but luckily, there are many lessons that can be learned along the way. This is something I've put together, similar to my 25th birthday post, but with a bit more realness to it.

I think we can all admit that we love the pretty things in life. I certainly do. And especially when everything feels like it's falling apart, I like to push as much as possible to have it all together, which can make my life seem pretty perfect. But we all have our struggles, even those people with the gorgeously curated Instagram accounts. My goal this year is to allow myself to be more vulnerable and real, regardless of how scary it might feel, to let my true self out (which I am still discovering everyday), and to use my voice to share honestly.

So, these are the things that happened this past year that did not appear in a pretty Instagram post: 

- celebrated my 26th birthday home in Chicago, where only a few days after arriving someone close to me had gotten put into jail. most of my trip was then spent visiting the jail, which consisted of waiting an hour in crowded room without ventilation to then see him for 15 minutes through a thick glass and trying to understand each other through a small intercom, which smelled of serious body odour (also definitely had some questionable bacteria on it). and going to lawyer offices. and to the court. repeating this process multiple times. definitely one experience I never thought I would go through. 

- witnessed a family member's alcoholism put him into the lowest point I've seen, resulting in seizures and the doctors saying they're not sure how long he would make it

- came back to Europe to my new home: Luxembourg, a small country located between Belgium, Germany, and France

- started loosing my positive, energetic self and had multiple health issues come up but kept trying to work through it with affirmations, mindfulness, & exercise, thinking that would change things 

- finally went to a doctor for tests just to make sure everything was ok

- got diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, Hashimoto disease, severe Candida overgrowth, and Lyme disease

- experienced depression through Lyme and due to the series of antibiotics I'd been on

- pretended everything was perfect to the world because letting out real vulnerabilities & admitting it's really not felt too scary

- got my dream puppy, Napoleon but then not long after, ended up in the hospital on a breathing machine; discovered I have severe dog allergies (which I never had before) and it's not possible for me to have one so we had to say goodbye to our little one and find him a good home

- fell down a waterfall while in Guadeloupe and broke my knee into two pieces

This may sound like a list of very negative things and in retrospect, I guess it is. But this is not a sad story kind of post. This is a post where I am getting brutally honest and vulnerable, raw and real. This is a post where I can share whatI've learned from a year that was more challenging than the previous.

Here it is. 27 things I've learned in 27 years:

1. You cannot control any person other than yourself. Trust me, I've tried it in every way, shape, or form and it is absolutely not possible. And yes, it's taken me 27 years to learn this but better late than never.

2. Let others do what makes them happy and just focus on what makes you happy. 

3. It's impossible to save or fix anyone. Especially when it's family, you want to be able to help the ones who are self-destructing so badly. It's really hard to watch someone you love hurt themselves but unless that person wants to change himself/herself then there is absolutely nothing you can do. 

4. Just because someone is blood related does not mean they can treat you however and you have to endure it. Relationships that are not bringing you up can be walked away from, regardless of who it is. You can still love them without being directly in their life.

5. Self-love is not selfish. It's a necessity. 

6. Sometimes therapy is needed to work through problems and there is nothing shameful about that.

7. It's not possible to give to others when you are empty yourself. Focus on filling yourself up with happiness and only then will you be able to give that to others. 

8. Meditation is amazing! 

9. Being your own best friend and cheerleader is so important. 

10. It's okay not to be okay. Talk to others and open up. Keeping everything inside just creates isolation and we as humans are meant to connect to one another. 

11. Surrounding yourself with those who are positive, supportive, and inspire you to be the best you can be makes the world of a difference. 

12. Hurt people hurt people. The people who put you down, belittle you, and bully you are hurting on the inside themselves. Those who are truly happy and content with themselves don't need to do that.

13. The bad things that happen in life are a blessing in disguise. They cause you to stop, slow down, grow and make changes. 

14. Positive affirmations can do wonders to improve ones life but all the affirmations in the world won't help if something physical is going wrong in your body. If something doesn't feel right, don't wait and just get tests done. 

15. Food is medicine. Quitting gluten, dairy, & sugar and choosing natural foods can do wonders for your health. 

16. Mint tea is life.

17. Not everyone will understand or like you and that's okay. 

18. Being yourself as weird or 'uncool' as you might be is one of the purposes of life. Trying to be someone else to fit in will just constantly leave you unhappy. 

19. Listen to your intuition or gut feeling, it aways tells you what's up. 

20. There is always lightness even in the complete darkness.

21. Beating up or judging yourself on your weaknesses/mistakes leads to nothing. Instead, focus on your strengths, make mistakes, and move forward. 

22. Take care of your body with nourishing food and tons of love. It's the one thing you're guaranteed to live in for the rest of your life.

23. It does not matter what others think of you. I know that can be something easier said than actually believed. This past year I thought I believed that but then when someone who loved me told me the things I create are stupid, embarrassing, & made them feel ashamed then I stopped creating altogether. It took me some time to realise that how this person reacted has absolutely nothing to do with me. I also realised that if I would stop doing the things that make me happy just because it makes someone else feel ashamed of me then I would end up people pleasing & be miserable. And to be honest, I've been down that route before and can say it's just not worth it. 

24. Things like having a healthy body, working arms & legs, etc should not be taken for granted. 

25.  Your feelings are valid. It doesn't matter if anyone else tells you that you should feel differently. They're your feelings and they are important so don't ignore them or feel guilty for having them.

26. It's during the worst periods of your life that you will see the real sides of the people who say they love & care for you.

27. You can have what looks like the perfect life on social media. You can travel the world, make a lot of money, have a relationship that on paper ticks all of the right boxes, and have the materialistically nice things. Yet even with all that you can still be heavily depressed. I used to think having this kind of life would mean I have it all and then I would be truly happy. Yet, even in the midst of that I found myself at the lowest I've ever been. Now, I believe what is truly needed to be happy is self-love, being yourself (no matter how different that might be), health, having a purpose, and surrounding yourself by positive, loving people.

If you've gotten this far then thank you for reading and for being on here. I hope it inspires at least one other person to also let out their vulnerabilities because let's be honest, this world has enough filters and could use some more real sharing.

With love,
♥ JJ